UCF vs. Tulsa Pick ATS 11/8/19
Central Florida Knights (7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-7 SU, 5-4 ATS)
When: Friday, November 8, 7 p.m EST
Where: Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Okla.
Point Spread: UCF -16.5/TUL +16.5 (BetNow)
Total: O/U 70.5
Outlook For Week 11
Central Florida’s national title from 2017 is just a memory at this point, as the Knights have slipped from being a national contender to merely being a good American Athletic Conference squad. UCF is by no means a bad team, but the Knights are not quite the juggernaut they used to be after losing to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. That first defeat has UCF on the outside looking in at the league championship game, but UCF can still make a solid bowl game and finish with an 11-win season, no small feat for a program that was 0-12 in 2015.
Tulsa, on the other hand, has little to play for here. The Golden Hurricane gave SMU all it wanted when they visited the Mustangs, but that loss has been a microcosm for Tulsa’s season. The Hurricane has come close time after time against the American’s top teams, playing Cincinnati credibly and nearly taking down Memphis. Still, their 2-7 record means they won’t be going to the postseason. The question here is, does Tulsa have enough motivation left to keep fighting against UCF, or are they emotionally spent after coming close so many times with no reward?
How the Public is Betting the UCF/Tulsa Game
The line is now up to 17 points for the Knights after starting at 16, and the total has held steady at 70.5 points.
UCF: Running back Greg McCrae has missed the Knights’ past two games with a knee injury and is questionable Friday.
Tulsa: Wide receiver Sam Crawford is questionable with a head injury.
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When UCF Has the Ball
There’s only been one proven way to stop the Knights’ video game offense: get the Knights to stop themselves. Cincinnati was able to do it, beating UCF by forcing the Knights to cough up the ball four times, including one that the Bearcats took back for a score. Even with that performance, the Bearcats barely survived, beating Central Florida by a 27-24 count.
What makes the Knights so dangerous is that Dillon Gabriel can go anywhere he likes with the football at any time, and that includes handing the ball off to any of his stable of running backs. All four of the Knights’ top ball carriers have at least one run of over 40 yards, and Gabriel Davis and Tre Nixon have proven to be reliable pass-catchers who can break a game open from anywhere on the field. Perhaps the scariest thing about facing UCF is that the Knights are never truly out of a game with their offense. To date, only Oklahoma averages more yards per game than UCF, and that wears on a defense over four quarters.
When Tulsa Has the Ball
So how can Tulsa compete with such a quick-strike offense? The easiest way to do it is to force turnovers. The second-best way is to keep it off the field by grinding out yardage, and the Golden Hurricane has the personnel to do precisely that. Shamari Brooks is a solid running back who can keep drives going, and Zach Smith has proven adept at chewing up yardage through the air. Smith doesn’t have any one true threat that he goes to more than anyone, but Keylon Stokes and Sam Crawford have done a nice job as possession receivers for the Golden Hurricane.This could be where Crawford’s absence really hurts Tulsa if he’s not able to play. If UCF is able to focus on Stokes, that means that either Brooks will have to have a great game or Keenen Johnson and Josh Johnson will have to step up and make plays in Crawford’s place to keep the Golden Hurricane on pace with the Knights.
Would you believe that Tulsa actually has the win streak in this series? Despite UCF going undefeated in 2017 and 2018, the Knights have dropped two straight to the Hurricane because UCF didn’t play Tulsa in either season, having last played the Hurricane in 2016. Both of those games ended with the same winning margin. Tulsa claimed a 15-point win both at home and in Orlando. Close games have not been the norm in this series, as only three of the teams’ 10 meetings have been decided by fewer than two touchdowns.That said, the Knights have been struggling against the spread as of late. UCF has just one cover in its past six games and is showing a tendency to play down to its competition. The Knights also don’t have a great history against the spread against Tulsa, covering in just two of the past seven matchups. The under has historically been the play in this series, as it’s 6-2-1 in the past nine matchups. However, neither team has shown much on defense this season, which is why UCF has seen the over hit in five of its previous six league games, and Tulsa has seen the over hit in four of five American games.
Weather ReportUnlike Florida, Oklahoma can get chilly in November. This will be unlike anything the Knights have seen this season, as temperatures in Tulsa will hit 50 degrees at kickoff.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
UCF hasn’t proven to be that great at covering the spread this season, and Tulsa is a lot better than its record suggests that it is. The one question with the Golden Hurricane is whether or not they still have the mentality to play with a team like UCF. Tulsa has come so close to a signature win so many times this year, and a bounce or two in the other direction would have made this a 5-2 team instead of a 2-5 outfit.Even though they’ve got nothing to play for, I don’t think that Tulsa’s done fighting just yet. I don’t expect the Hurricane to break through here and get that signature win, but I think they’ll attack UCF’s questionable defense and keep this game interesting into the fourth quarter. Seventeen points feel like far too many in this game. I’d feel a lot more comfortable giving 10 with UCF, but since that’s not going to happen, I’m going to have to take Tulsa and the 17.